I don’t know about you, but once the thermometer hits 80 degrees the last thing I want to do is put on a suit and go to a networking event. Here in the Midwest, we try to squeeze in as much fun as we can in our seemingly too short summer. But that doesn’t mean your networking should slow down in the summer. In fact, it should be hotter then ever; everyone’s in great mood and there’s a lot more sunshine! You just have to go where the people are. Here are 5 great places to network when the sun is out:
1. Cookouts – Whether it’s for your neighborhood association, your kid’s little league team, or your church picnic, summer cookouts are full of people that you just kinda know. Like all of these networking ideas, people don’t really go to cookouts to talk business, so don’t be the guy or gal who only talks about business. There’s nothing wrong, though, with getting to know people better – ask them the kind of questions you’d ask any new networking partner. You’ll be amazed at the connections you can make over the grill.
2. Vacation Spots – People travel all over the country, heck, all over the world, on summer vacation. One of the fun things about travel is the people you meet when you are there (and sometimes in the airports on the way). Don’t be afraid to strike up conversations with the people you meet while vacationing, both the locals and other travelers like yourself. Even if you don’t make a business contact, you’ll have fascinating conversations. And because of the power of the internet and social media, these days you can meet someone thousands of miles from home and still stay connected with them!
3. Ballgames – There’s nothing like sitting in the stands, watching a game, and having a couple of hot dogs. Unless you go in a big group, there’s a good chance you’ll be sitting near someone you don’t know for at least three hours (more if it goes into extra innings). Why not be friendly and introduce yourself? At the very least you’ll have a friend for the few hours of the game – if they’re rooting for the right team; and you never know who that person is and where a conversation could lead…
4. Street Fairs – The summer is full of art fairs, music festivals, barbeque rib cook-offs, and more. Be open to meeting new people while you’re there. You already know that you share a common interest – you’re both at the same festival! So when you’re waiting in line to get some cotton candy, say hi to the person behind you.
5.Restaurant Patios – There’s something about enjoying a cool beverage while sitting on a patio in the summer that puts everyone in a positive frame of mind. It’s a great place to meet new people. Or even better, use the opportunity to invite one of your existing contacts to grab a beverage with you and do your networking outdoors. Then you can enjoy the weather and do business at the same time!
I’m sure there are even more places to network in the summer, but these will give you a start. The trick is to keep your eyes open to the possibilities and not push off your networking until later! Enjoy your summer!